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Let Horses Be Horses and Humans Be Humans

equine therapySo often horse owners determine was is right and good for a horse based on what they — the human — may consider good. Sadly, in that process, of, for lack of better terminology, trying to humanize the horse, we forget, that horses, after all got along just fine before we came along. More importantly, we forget that horses need to be horses, allowed to act in ways that are natural to them, not us. Interestingly, this same concept can be applied to the relationships we have with people in our lives.


It happens all the time. We get into relationships and almost without out our awareness, and certainly, without our intent, develop expectations about how the other should act. He/she should call more, return text messages rapidly, should make more effort, show more kindness, whatever. Of course, when we do this, it is a set-up situation. We are basing our expectations on what we would consider normal, or natural, just as we might with a horse.


However, do we often stop to ask, Is it really in this person’s nature to do this?, or Am I expecting something from this person that she/he doesn’t appear to be expecting from himself/herself? If the answer is yes, we could be doing our potential relationship partner quite a disservice.


Here we are, wanting acceptance and love, yet somehow failing to provide it. After all, if we are expecting someone to be different from what he/she really is, aren’t we also failing to accept him/her?


Interestingly, those who specialize in equine behavior weigh in when it comes to the way horses develop relationships. Experts, like, Natalie Waran, senior vice president of the International Society for Equitation Science Council and head of the School of Natural Sciences at Unitec New Zealand, say that the most important thing to remember, is that horses are individuals who need space and time to work out their relationships. She  clarifies, “This means doing introductions carefully and providing a new horse with the opportunity to escape.”


When was the last time, you asked that question, Am I giving this person time to work out this relationship?, or Am I giving him/her a chance to escape? This may seem like an odd question, but the reality is, people need to work out their relationships just as horses do, and when we accept people in their own nature, we will be less likely to imposition them with our expectations for them.


Whether it be horses or human we choose to engage with, a very important message can be derived from the work of Waran, and equine behavior experts like My Horse University’s online Horse Behavior and Welfare Course, based out of Michigan State University, and that is, just accept those around you, as they are.



Horse photo available from Shutterstock

Let Horses Be Horses and Humans Be Humans

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2012). Let Horses Be Horses and Humans Be Humans. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Oct 2012
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